Some 200 people protested in the centre of the Syrian capital Damascus on Friday, expressing their support for the citizens of Deraa, 100 kilometres to the south, where Syrian security forces killed at least 44 people in recent unrest. The protests were broken up by police and dozens of arrests were made.
A counter-demonstration also took place by supporters of President Bashar al-Assad.
Opposition figures claim the situation is worsening. “Syria is on the brink of an explosion. It’s a snowball effect that’s going to speed up in the coming days. The government has the key to the situation, but it doesn’t seem to have a long-term vision. There are arrests going on in several cities, and over the coming days we’ll have proof that the regime cannot reform itself,” said human rights activist Haytham el-Maleh.
As if to confirm his words about 1,000 people demonstrated in Tel, a town near the capital.
On Thursday Assad claimed he had not issued the order to fire on the Deraa protesters, and promised to look into ways of granting greater freedoms. The protests are the most serious he has faced during his 11-year rule.